Squirrel Picnic

Handmade with Love and Stuff


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Charm Exchange Part 3: Coming Together

Our group of fabulous jewelry-making artists met at Axios Estiatorio in Denver on a rainy October Sunday to exchange charms and enjoy some really fantastic Greek food.

Annie started us off by showing the eye and heart charms she made for Sylvie’s “Eye Adore You” necklace. Using mixed media that includes beaded embroidery, felt, hand-stitching, and some very unique statement beads, Annie’s charms are truly eye-catching (excuse the pun).

Sylvie's Necklace October

Sylvie’s charms for my Coral Reef bracelet included a mermaid and a jellyfish. A tiny model mermaid rests inside one of Sylvie’s signature “deviled eggs” – miniature dioramas that are truly delightful! The jellyfish was made with long plumes of yarn in a variety of colors and textures that really capture the look of tentacles.

Jennifer's Bracelet October

For Annie’s Birds & Flowers necklace, I crocheted two small birds based on a pattern I found at Attic 24. Using DMC floss and a size 10 steel hook, I crocheted three rounds, then added a tail before fastening off. After folding the bird in half with the tail at the back, I sewed up the bottom. Then I added a crocheted beak and stitched on the eyes and wings. The large flowers at the bottom are made from felt buttons (the same ones I use in Podge’s hair).

Annie's Necklace October

Alexandra explained that she experimented with new tools to work with fimo on her charms for Rosalind’s Garden of Earthly Delights bracelet, adding that she loves using the tiny ballpoints on the tool to make the pieces stick. She was surprised at how the rose head didn’t cause too much trouble — she made the head, stuck on the hair, and added petals around where needed.

Rosalind's Bracelet October

Our charm bracelets and necklaces are really starting to come together. Don’t they all look great! Join me next month to see how I go about crocheting a kokeshi doll for Alexandra’s bracelet. It should be a lot of fun!

Check out previous posts in this series:

Part 1: Make Jewelry, Make Friends

Part 2: Working on a Small Scale Poses a Big Challenge

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Charm Exchange Part 2: Working on a Small Scale Poses a Big Challenge

On a bright Sunday morning, Sylvie, Annie, and I gathered at Erikia’s house for the August Charm Exchange. I couldn’t wait to see what everyone had brought, and our little group delivered handsomely with both well-crafted and gorgeous charms and a delicious potluck brunch. There were breakfast sandwiches and pastries from local shops, a yogurt parfait bar, a homemade raspberry gelatin, fresh fruit, a cheese and bread plate, and mimosas!

With our plates loaded, we headed to Erikia’s enchanting backyard where she had a table set up for us under her brand-new canopy. She’s very excited about using the new canopy at her booth in the upcoming Salida Fiber Festival, where she will be selling her vintage tin stitch markers. She’s done an amazing job preparing for the festival, punching out the markers from antique tins and then professionally finishing and stamping them. She used similar techniques to create her charms for Annie’s Birds & Flowers necklace. The red flower is made of copper, which she shaped into a curve before enameling it with powders and a torch to give it its vibrant color.

Annie's Necklace August 2014

I crocheted my charms for Erikia’s In the Dark necklace using No. 10 crochet thread and a size 11 steel crochet hook. Working in this small scale presented a huge challenge for me. It took me several tries to get it right. For my first attempt, I crocheted the spider from the book Itty Bitty Crocheted Critters, but I didn’t really take the legs into account when I was working on the body. Although the body was only about an inch long, the legs made the whole thing over three inches! Then I tried just crocheting small balls to see what I could come up with. Stuffing these balls with Fiberfill revealed that I would need something sturdier inside to preserve their shape. I finally found some bronze-colored Bakelite beads in my stash that I thought would be a good fit both in size and color for Erikia’s necklace. I crocheted around the first bead and fastened off before it was completely covered, allowing the bead to show through. For the other bead, I ended up enclosing it completely and then sewing on small black and green beads to give it a spiky texture.

Erikia's Necklace August 2014

Rosalind used polymer clay to sculpt a mermaid charm and a squid charm for my Coral Reef bracelet. In the squid, she also added oxidized sterling silver chain and some gemstones. Even though she also found that working in this scale has its difficulties, I’m so impressed by all the detail she has managed to include in these charms. Keep in mind that they are under an inch long!

Jennifer's Coral Reef Bracelet August 2014

Sylvie created a tiny diorama inside a mini pocket watch for one of her charms for Rosalind’s Garden of Earthly Delights bracelet. It features a teeny baby with Monarch butterfly wings amid the moss of a forest floor. For her second charm, she brought new life to a piece of broken jewelry with the addition of colorful vintage floral beads.

Rosalind's Bracelet August 2014

Rosalind and I weren’t alone in our struggle with scale. Annie agrees that making charms this tiny poses a challenge, but I think she succeeded handily with her felt and bead charms for Alexandra’s Kokeshi Doll bracelet. All of the stitching is painstakingly done by hand, and as always, Annie’s eye for color shines through.

Alexandra's Bracelet August 2014

Alexandra sculpted her charms for Sylvie’s Eye Adore You necklace in fimo. Most of her experience is with sculpting people or animals, so working with this subject matter was a challenge for her. It forced her to think outside the box, but it also left her inspired to start on the next set of charms right away!

Sylvie's Necklace August 2014

These ladies have inspired me too. I can’t wait to get started on my charms for Annie’s Birds & Flowers necklace. We’ll be meeting again in October, and until then I think I will try working with lighter thread and a smaller hook to see what I can come up with. I might need to invest in a magnifying glass.

Check out previous posts in this series:

Make Jewelry, Make Friends


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Itty Bitty, Teeny Weeny Crochet

A recent invitation to participate in a charm exchange has brought me the opportunity to explore the wonderful world of miniature amigurumi. An exchange like this brings artists together to collaborate in the making of each other’s charm necklace or bracelet. Our group includes artists in a variety of mediums: ceramic, mixed media, felt, beads, metal, and found objects. And I get to contribute crochet to the mix! Each of us gets to pick a theme for our jewelry piece, and I chose coral reefs. Imagine all the colorful things we could do with that! But first I have to make a charm myself to get my bracelet started. What reef creature could I make?

crochet-picnic-basket1First things first, I’ve never crocheted anything this small. I think the smallest piece I’ve done is the picnic basket that is about 2” tall. Just to practice, I tried making an urchin, thinking it was a simple shape… but it was too simple and it just looked like a ball. After trying a few more sea creatures, I decided to make a starfish. First I attempted to convert a life-sized starfish pattern to this scale by using DMC floss and the smallest size hook I could find. But no matter what I tried I couldn’t get it small enough. It made me realize that miniature crochet has its own tricks and rules! I do have a lot to learn.

I needed extra-small materials and extra-small patterns. I went to my local craft store with all my crochet hooks in hand to try to complete my set of steel hooks. I love how inexpensive steel hooks are! For under $20 I was able to get all the hooks I needed, from size 00 to size 14. I was also able to find crochet thread and 100% Pearl Cotton Thread in Size 5. My friend Annie let me borrow her Size 8 thread to try. Now I feel sufficiently equipped for this challenge.

Itty Bitty Crocheted Critters by Erin ClarkMini Amigurumi  by Sara ScalesI also found some books about miniature crochet that are bound to help. Mini Amigurumi by Sara Scales includes patterns for a wide variety of cute little gems from birds to babies to fruits and vegetables. Some are as small as 1/2”! Itty Bitty Crocheted Critters by Erin Clark includes patterns for some really interesting creatures like a flamingo, gecko, and crocodile. I’ve seen works from fellow crocheters done from these patterns and I can’t wait to try them out too.

We’ll be making charms for this exchange and meeting every other month over the next year. It will be exciting to see if I can improve my skills over this time. And I can’t wait to see what everyone else makes too!

I’ll share with you more in the coming week about how the charm exchange works. Until then, here’s the crochet pattern for the starfish I made for my own bracelet. I’m wondering if any of you have tried miniature amigurumi. What’s the smallest thing you’ve ever crocheted?

Starfish Charm

Starfish Charm Crochet Pattern

(Inspired by the work of Julia Kolbaskina)

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Pattern for Crochet Acorns and Fantastic Ways to Use Them

Hodge and Eric showed us over the last few weeks how acorns are a treasured gift among squirrels, but I think the crocheted variety could come in handy for us humans too. Below are some unique and creative ways you might use these acorns. And, as always, here’s the free pattern to make your very own!

My pattern includes instructions on making a cap and a bottom, which you sew together to form an acorn. If instead you don’t sew the cap to the bottom of the acorn, you’ll have a unique gift box in which to hide a little present.

Gift Acorn

Add acorns to a fall wreath or mantel display.

Acorn Decor

Crochet your acorns in holiday colors or all white and hang them on your tree or display them in a decorative bowl on your coffee table.

White Acorn

String a cord through the stem and wear the acorn as a necklace.

Acorn Necklace

Use bright colors and a crochet hook size H-8 (5.0 mm) or larger to make an acorn like Eric’s bioengineered one. These acorns would make wonderful pincushions, present toppers, or even cat toys.

Neon Acorn

Crochet Acorn Pattern Continue reading